The Adams Center for Teaching and Learning has started a new reading group called Make It Stick to help faculty members improve the ways their students learn.
The group is based on the book Make It Stick, by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel, which explores research on the science of learning.
The group meets Wednesdays for lunch in the Adams Center and is led by Dr. Robert McKelvain, researcher in residence and professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of Psychology.
“The Reading Group is for faculty who are exploring ways to improve how much their students learn “¦ it is an important idea,” McKelvain said. “Make It Stick is a very important book that summarizes current research on how students learn. The faculty is reviewing it to apply the principle to their courses.”
There are many misconceptions about learning and studying which can cause students to waste time and effort, McKelvain said. The purpose of the reading group is to work together to teach students more effective learning habits.
“Anyone can increase what they learn and do it in less time using the principles in the book,” he said. “The professors in our reading group are working to help students use the principles in the classes they teach.”
One of those principles, McKelvain said, is that the most effective learning strategy may be retrieval practice, or trying to remember information. The reading group has already learned several techniques through the book that can help students train their minds through retrieval practice.
David Christianson, instructional designer, said the fall semester’s reading group did so well that members encouraged McKelvain to host it again so more instructors could benefit.
“Dr. McKelvain walked into our office one day last spring, smiled broadly and proclaimed, ‘I have been replaced by a book,'” he said. “He then told us how excited he was for the upcoming release of the book, its content and direction, and we quickly asked him to lead a book group.”
The faculty involved in the group last semester has already begun to make changes to the design of courses they are teaching this semester, Christianson said.
“The book is targeted to students and instructors and focuses more on effective study skills than learning from emotional experiences,” he said. “The idea of ‘stickiness’ is that learned information is available for recall beyond a classroom test and becomes part of the body of knowledge one can access from memory in appropriate situations.”